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Your Guild bargaining committee has only your best interests at heart

Some of you have attended, or are planning to attend, a meeting with management today about negotiations with your union. We are disappointed that the employer seems to be choosing to work around your negotiating committee by trying to bargain directly with employees. The reason some employers don’t particularly like collective bargaining ? as opposed to negotiating directly with individuals and small groups ? is that only by presenting a united front can employees accomplish real and lasting gains in the workplace.

The employer has to balance a number of interests, and number one is usually the executive suite and shareholders. Your union’s one and only priority is you.

Here is a FACT CHECK on some of the things discussed at today’s management meetings:

Salaries: we proposed a simplification of the salary groups, along with salary scales that would move everyone’s salaries up over time. Most unionized workers in the TV industry have salary scales and it’s not uncommon for an employee’s salary to go up by 20% over five or six years as they move from the bottom to the top of the scale ? not including any across-the-board increases. Management apparently doesn’t like what we’ve proposed but, rather than proposing alternatives, the company is sticking to its initial proposal of 1.5% across the board in the first year and another 1.5% in the second? essentially flatlining your salary until 2013. We don’t think that’s reasonable, especially since Shaw Television is among the top revenue-earning properties in the Canadian media sector.

Pension: right now the pension plan for our bargaining unit is a matching plan; Shaw will match employee contributions up to 4% of salary. That’s fine, although it only qualifies as a benefit if you can afford to put your own money in. A number of other Shaw employees, most of them in fact, get a contribution equal to 5% of their salary without having to put in any money of their own at all. Why treat Guild members differently?

We’ve calculated the cost of our proposal, and it’s quite reasonable. And when you compare it to the cost of financing Jim Shaw’s pension, widely reported at $16,000 a day, it’s peanuts.

Benefits: What we’ve proposed is pretty simple. Don’t make any major changes to the existing benefit plans, append a summary of coverage to the collective agreement and continue to split the premium payments the way they are now. Shaw says no dice.

Maternity/parental leave: Any employer that promotes itself as “family friendly” should have clear and generous leave provisions for employees who are starting or growing a family. Shaw is still considering our proposal, and we remain optimistic that they’ll share our view that maternity leave provisions aren’t something that should be changed lightly or at the drop of a hat.

Job descriptions: we put forward job descriptions that are based largely on what you, the people doing the work, have told us the jobs really entail. There are a couple of job classifications where we haven’t been able to come up with a description yet, but it would be our goal to reflect every job within the bargaining unit. Management has contributed nothing to the conversation.

Statutory holidays and Personal Paid Days: The company has said that it wants to eliminate Personal Paid Days completely. In return, they’re offering to observe Easter Monday and Remembrance Day as holidays. We have not agreed to this proposal.

Sick leave: We made a proposal on sick leave that is meant to allow for some consistency and fairness from one department to another. Management wants to be able to decide who’s “abusing” sick leave and who they want to follow more closely.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. Many of the Guild’s contract proposals are based on simple concepts like fairness and commitment. More than once Shaw management’s response to our proposals has been words to the effect of “but we do that already”. If that’s the case, we think the company should have no problem committing to it in writing? but on many issues they’re refusing.

We are scheduled to meet them tomorrow and Thursday and we expect to have fruitful discussions about how we can move negotiations forward to ensure members get what they deserve.

We’re happy to talk about any questions or concerns you might have. We’ll be setting up membership meetings of our own soon. In the meantime, feel free to approach a member of the bargaining team at any time.

Katy Boudreau
Mike Duong
Sherisse White
Karen Wirsig, CMG Staff
Keith Maskell, CMG Staff Representative

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